People often approach us and ask "It's riding for people with special needs that you do, isn't it?", and we answer "Yes, but that's not all - we offer more!" At 'Hairy Henry's', we offer a service to children and adults of all abilities - whether their needs are 'ordinary' or 'special'.This is the great thing about Therapeutic Riding: the session, usually one-to-one or in a small group, is tailor-made to suit each individual rider. Sometimes people choose not to ride at all and just spend a very special time with their favourite horse...
We have just launched our 'Hug a Hairy Henry'! Our horses a very friendly and soft and cuddly, but they are still big and not easily hugged - because it requires to get close to them and reach out - not always easy! (Although hugging them can be a great way to feeling happier, smilier, more confident, more alive, more positive, less anxious, less dependent.....)
Any rider who hugs Henry for their first time now gets acknowledgment with a rosette...Here our very first hugger:
Rupert Isaacson, who developed 'The Horse Boy Method', will be joining up with us to give a demonstration on his work THIS SATURDAY 12TH JULY 2014, 11am to 1pm. The demo will take place in an indoor arena at Bantry Horseriding Equestrian Centre, Coomanore South, Mealagh Valley, Bantry, Co. Cork. The event is free, however, donations to Rupert's 'Horse Boy Foundation' are welcome (at the least to cover cost of hired arena etc.).
Rupert will give an introduction to his successful approach in using horses in a therapeutic context with people with autism. His approach is based on using the horse as part of the therapeutic team and he uses principles from Spanish Dressage for backriding (competent rider behind person with special needs in one saddle).
Here are directions to the venue:
DIRECTIONS: (there will be signs ‘Horse Boy Demo’ along the way): Follow N71 north, just before you leave town at the end of Glengarriff road, look out for 'Quick Pick' shop on your right, take right turn at the junction after the shop, follow this road until you get to a fork, take the left, follow this road into the Mealagh valley for about 3 miles, pass 'Bantry Driving Academy' on your left, take next right turn after that, follow this narrow road for a mile, take first left turn, follow this road until you get to Bantry Horse Riding.
Would you like to find out more about us? Why not come along to our
OPEN DAY next FRIDAY 6th June 2014, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
On the day, you will have the opportunity to learn about therapeutic riding and how it works, you will see our set-up, and you will be able to meet our two therapy horses Henry and Winnie. And there will be vouchers for sale on the day for taster sessions at a reduced rate of €20/session (one voucher per rider).
Contact us to book: 087 9389867
Winter has turned into Spring, and with the on-going dry weather, we've been able to re-open our nature trail! This is a trail which leads horse and rider outside the fenced-in arena, across fields, down a sheltered track, along ponds and hedgerows. Going on this trail offers great opportunities to the rider for improving posture and balance, and the environment is rich with sounds, smells and sights to enhance the rider's sensory processing. This is the term used for the neurological process which enables people to make sense of all external and internal sensations which we experience all the time. Some people find this difficult, they hav sensory integration diffiulties. For these people, going on the nature trail with their therapeutic riding coach, is ideal - the coach helps them to filter and make sense of the sensations, thus promoting their sensory processing, which leads to improved self-regulation, movement, self-concept and interaction with others. But even for the rider who has not such diffiuclties, the expereince of goping on the trail is enriching and calming and helps strengthen the bond between rider and horse.
We hope that this summer, we can step up our nature trail to a 'Sensory Trail' which will not only give access to the beauties of our natural environment, but will also contain 'stations' - boxes or boards with therapeutic tools - which focus on a particular sense, such as smell, or sound.
This site here demonstrates the idea of a 'Sensory Trail' well - it is an inspiration to me, and hopefully, we will add to our trail bit by bit:
A very interesting study is being continued in 2014 in the Dublin and Galway regions into the benefits of therapeutic riding for people with dyspraxia - and currently, they are searching for more participants. If you are anywhere near Galway or Dublin or don't mind travelling, and fit the profile, it might be worthwhile having a closer look at their website:
Definitely, there is a stretch in the day! When doing our evening feeding chores, there is still some light in the sky - a sure sign that Spring is on its way!
In terms of giving out appointments, we try to cater for everyone as best as we can, which can be difficult in Winter - between long school days and early nightfall...but soon, it will be possible again to offer early evening sessions during the week.
And for the rain and cold - well, actually, there are always plenty of dry spells between showers, and a dry airy barn offering shelter from the worst of weather. The sheepskins we use for riding in Winter also help to keep us warm and cosy!
And if that is not enough, well, there is Henry with his big hairy mane and soft deep fur, offering warm hugs.....
Sensory integration activities can be incorporated into any Therapeutic Riding session - to add opportunities to help people with sensory integration difficulties, and to have some extra fun, too.
Sensory integration difficulties can have a big impact on people's lives, whether the issue is sensory seeking behaviour, under/over responsive behaviour to sensory stimulation, sensory discrimination difficulties or sensory motor difficulties.
The horse himself offers a wide range of stimuli which, in a therapeutic setting, can help the human brain to overcome these difficulties - the horse is soft in places, and hard, rubbery, furry, warm in other places. There are smells and noises, and of course, there is the horse's gait, which is a powerful stimulus in itself.
But the Therapeutic Riding coach can add to these sensations by introducing other materials in games and activities - such as feathers, ribbons, beads, bean bags...the list is endless.
For any of ye dealing with sensory integration difficulties, here is an interesting website with activities anyone can do at home...or of course in a Therapeutic Riding session:
Almost all people I talk to about Therapeutic Riding are interested and open learn about this new approach. But it is still another step to go and book a session with a Therapeutic Riding Coach...because how can they be sure that it will be like they imagine it to be? And they worry that they - or their child - might not like it. Will the horse be bigger than they imagine? Will the horse jump about? Will they - their child - be at risk of falling off? Will it hurt your body to ride a horse? Will you gain anything from it? And what exactly? Asking all these questions makes sense - but still, the clearest answer you get will be to just give it a try! So that's why we run a special Christmas promotion to encourage you to start something new in the coming year, for yourself, or your child, or someone you know.
Why not book a taster session with 'Hairy Henry'?!
We are running a special Christmas offer this year - buy a voucher now and get a 25% discount - and book in for a session until 31st January 2014.
Special offer for vouchers runs until 24th December 2013.
This is the blog for 'Hairy Henry' Therapeutic Riding, where we share events, information and experiences.